The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years

President's Letter

Successes, Accomplishments and Recognitions

As many of you know, Rainbows United is fortunate to have an outstanding engaged Board of Directors. They care deeply about Rainbows’ Mission, staff, children and families we serve, and the overall stability of the organization. Rainbows’ Annual Board Meeting was December 11, 2018. It was a time to celebrate successes from the past year and welcome Board Members for 2019. Janeen Hughes began her two year term as Board Chair and Gail Johnson moved into the Past Chair position. Other officers elected include Jeff Jabara as Treasurer, and Lisa Farris as Secretary.

We recognized a number of individuals: Steve Hohl and Old Chicago East for their support of Blarney Breakfast; Neil Guthrie, recently retired from the Wichita Public Schools, for his longtime support of Rainbows; Sue Leisman with The Miller Group who is an essential partner of Rainbows assisting us annually in getting the best pricing for the best health insurance coverage and other benefits for our employees; Kansas Senator Carolyn McGinn for her leadership in helping us secure an additional $2 million State funding for the statewide Infant/Toddler system known as tiny-k; and to the Super Hero Project team of Jake Ramstack, Meghan Polk, Hayley Lunn, and The Justin McClure Team who with a little inspiration and a lot of determination, four friends turned a social media share into a powerful film with a lot of heart.

The recognitions concluded with Rainbows’ Prism Award. Each year a Rainbows employee is selected for this honor who has shown exemplary service and whose work demonstrates all of Rainbows Guiding Principles. The winner in 2018 is Peggy Burns. Peggy is a member of Sedgwick County Infant/Toddler Services. She has worked for Rainbows for 13 years as a speech language pathologist. Peggy is a hardworking, dedicated, kind, intelligent staff member who remains positive and inspires others even in the most challenging circumstances.

Some of the accomplishments in 2018 include: serving 3842 children ages birth to 21 and their families; completing the development of our Agency Strategic Plan and implementation began; involving 481 volunteers who put in 7,987 volunteer hours; raising significant funds for services through 5 special events; engaging a talented and generous group of volunteers who developed the Super Hero Project; producing 3 videos to help describe Rainbows services in the community; and submitting 42 grant applications with a 69% approval rate.

We look forward to building on these achievements in 2019!

-Deb Voth, President

A Day in the Life of

A Rainbows’ Early Interventionist
Beth Watkins

A career in early intervention has countless fringe benefits, including a front row seat to first steps and first words, sticky hugs, patty cake games and a working knowledge of Paw Patrol characters. LOL. To be part of the beginning of a family’s parenting journey is a singular privilege.

When my coordinator asked me to write something to be shared here about my time working in early intervention, I found myself remembering many special families and what they have taught me about perseverance over the last 30 years.  The beginning of a family’s parenting journey is a unique time in life, there is often joy and frustration and vulnerability and lots of learning and little sleep, usually some combination of these on any given day. When the newest member of the family faces health or developmental challenges it’s that and more.
…. I remember determined parents tenaciously pursuing referrals to and visiting a fourth specialist until they found access to the best treatment for their child.
….I remember a mom who had to visit WIC over and over to get the formula her baby needed, changing her work schedule each time.
….I remember the Dad who moved to 3rd shift because there was no daycare that could meet his son’s needs.
…. I remember a mom learning the vocabulary of cardiac care and English simultaneously, so she could understand and be active in her child’s treatment.
….I remember the grandma who rearranged her furniture and started strengthening exercises, so she could be on the floor with the granddaughter she wasn’t expecting to raise.
…. I remember her husband getting hearing aids, so he could actively participate in intervention and life with this precious baby.
….. I remember the 17 year-old mom who finished her GED, learned how to drop tube feeds and change her child’s catheter all in the same month.
….. I remember the mom who learned sign language and taught her entire extended family so that they could communicate with her son.
….. I remember the uncle who built an entry ramp out of scrap decking and a bath chair out of PVC pipe and a patio chair so as his nephew grew heavier his sister could still care for him solo.
…..I remember a mom (pre Facebook) who made it her mission to reach out to parents of other children with her child’s diagnosis, forming a life giving support network of parents who felt alone.
….and so many more who have worked through the unexpected that life handed them day by day with honesty, courage, tenacity and love.

The longer I practice the more acutely aware I am of the trust parents gift me with when they allow me to come alongside them for some small part of this journey. Watching these parents become accomplished advocates for their children, navigating complicated social, medical and educational systems, sifting and coordinating worlds of information and using it all as only they can, as the ones who know their precious child best, is more fulfilling than I can articulate.

Thank you to so many families who have allowed me to walk alongside them, as a small part of their story for a few of those early years, you have provided me inspiration to last a lifetime.

Beth Watkins, Speech Language Pathologist, Infant/Toddler Services

Time with Your Child

15 Minutes a Day

Research around parenting seems to agree: Uninterrupted time with our children is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy attachment with them. It supports the relationship, helps reduce negative behaviors, and builds trust. Spending just 15 minutes per day with your child in play, conversation, and interaction can have a major impact on your child – and on you!

Children crave the attention of their caregivers. Parenting programs like The Incredible Years suggest that children will seek any form of attention – good or bad. So, this parenting program recommends parents spend 15 minutes per day with their child in order to provide them with the attention they crave in a positive way so the child will be less likely to act out negatively.

These 15 minutes may be hard to find at first, but we know from experience that planning those 15 minutes in advance and honoring that time will cut down on time spent correcting children’s negative behavior. For instance, if a parent plans to give the first 15 minutes when home after a long work day to their child, they may end up having a nicer evening. Those 15 minutes may include playing a game, talking with kids about their day, or taking a walk.

Many of us interact with our children often throughout the day, but how much of that time is uninterrupted and focused solely on the relationship between parent/child? How much of that time is spent in multi-tasking in our busy world? We recommend that during this 15 minutes of your day, phones are turned off (or put away), televisions are turned off, and the time is honored as parent/child time.

Some parents have honestly reported that they are fearful to start this 15 minutes of time, because ending it at 15 minutes is difficult and leads to meltdowns. This negative behavior can happen, but we have seen it work well with the following preventative measures in place.

Explain to your child that you will spend 15 minutes each day with them in play. Set a timer for 15 minutes, explain to your child what will happen when the timer goes off, and then play. When the timer goes off, stop play, tell your child how much you loved the time with them and how much you look forward to your time tomorrow, and then head to the task you planned to do. Over time, children will learn to trust that they will have that uninterrupted time with you each day.

Research shows that when you start spending this time with your child, without dividing your attention with other things, you will begin to see increased positive behavior from your child. If you try it, we would love to hear how it works for you!

-Audra Kenneson, LMSW-Mental Health & Foster Care Coordinator

Make an Impact in 2019

Calendar of Possibilities

Happy New Year!  I have always enjoyed the feeling of starting a fresh calendar in the New Year. I love the feeling of opening the calendar to the blank pages of possibilities. I mean, I really love looking at the crisp white paper, the open space available within each date to fill with activities, important reminders, birthdays, trips, special anniversaries, and on and on. Of course, I also fill my calendar with the endless activities of my kids because let’s face it, if I don’t write it all out we will miss an important school function, choir performance, basketball game or birthday party. 

I usually start my new calendar by adding birthdays and special events, writing them ever so nicely at the bottom of each date with a fine point black pen. Then, I add in all the school related functions to the calendar in red, making sure to BOLD and ITALICIZE all “NO SCHOOL” days. By this time, my new calendar still looks organized, has well placed color coded reminders in each month and each date still has beautiful white space. It looks clean, crisp, organized and refreshing!

Next comes the special activities, color coded by each child, which vary in schedule by week or month. Baseball tournaments, travel plans, games, summer camp field trips. And practice. Don’t forget the practice schedule for each activity. By now, my fresh, crisp calendar is almost full and the beautiful patterns of color have now become a hot mess! 

The blank pages of possibility are gone. The feeling of opportunity, wonder, and desire to make an impact in the coming year have faded….how could I possibly add another item to the calendar?

This year, I encourage you to start your calendar with the things you genuinely care about. Your passions, interests and the areas where you want to make the greatest impact. Start your calendar with the things that feed your soul and re-energize your spirit. I find great value in giving to Rainbows’ fundraising campaign because I truly believe in the quality of services we provide for children with special needs and their families.

I was inspired by the story featured in Rainbows’ Annual Campaign of Alex and Kayla and their desire to be the best parents possible for their baby Matthew. Gifts to Rainbows’ Annual Campaign help families get the training they need to support their children as they learn and grow. I invest in Rainbows because I know my donation makes an impact. 

So, forget the hot mess of color coded madness. Focus your new calendar on your interests and passions allowing you to see the abundant possibilities of the New Year!

-Angela Kessler, Vice President of Development